Israel Responds Coolly to Outcome of Iranian Presidential Election

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The Israeli government on Saturday responded coolly to the election of Hasan Rowhani as Iran's new president, stressing that the Iranian president has no say on Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

"The President elect in Iran had been shortlisted by the Ayatollah Khamenei, who has disqualified and removed candidates who did not conform to his extremist views," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement.

He noted that until now, Ayatollah Khamenei has been making the decisions on the Iranian nuclear program, not the Iranian president.

"After the elections, Iran will continue to be judged by its actions, in the nuclear sphere as well as on the issue of terror. Iran must abide by the demands of the international community to stop its nuclear program and cease the dissemination of terror throughout the world."

Rowhani won Iran's presidential election on Saturday, scoring a surprising landslide victory over conservative hardliners without the need of a second round run-off.

The outcome will not soon transform Iran's long tense relations with the West, call into question its disputed pursuit of nuclear power or lessen its support of Syria's president in the civil war there - matters of national security that remain the domain of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But the president runs the economy and wields important influence in decision-making and Rowhani's meteoric rise could offer latitude for a thaw in Iran's foreign relations and more social freedoms at home after eight years of confrontation and repression under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was legally barred from seeking a third consecutive term.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attending a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, February 17, 2013.Credit: Reuters
Candidate Hasan Rowhani casts his ballot.Credit: AP

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